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Former Principal Pleads Guilty in APS Cheating Case

At Christopher Waller's direction, APS educators participated in cheating ‘parties’ where they changed wrong to right answers on students’ CRCT’s en masse.

To date, 21 defendants have entered guilty pleas in connection with the cheating scandal. There are thirteen remaining defendants who will now proceed to trial in May 2014. Credit: Patch file
To date, 21 defendants have entered guilty pleas in connection with the cheating scandal. There are thirteen remaining defendants who will now proceed to trial in May 2014. Credit: Patch file
From the Fulton County District Attorney's Office:

Once hailed as a model educator for producing dramatic test gains, former Parks Middle School Principal Christopher Waller is admitting guilt in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) cheating scandal.

During plea proceedings before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter Friday, Waller pleaded guilty to a felony count of False Statements and Writings.  

Waller was one of 35 educators (one now deceased) indicted last March for their roles in a conspiracy to alter Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) scores within the Atlanta Public School system. 

Each was charged with False Statements and Writings, Theft by Taking and Violation of the Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act.  

Waller served as Principal of Parks Middle School in southwest Atlanta from 2005-2010. During his tenure, CRCT scores soared. The dramatic ‘gains’ earned Waller public praise from then-superintendent Beverly Hall and a total of $5,000 in bonus money between 2006 and 2008.

Though he initially denied the claims against him, Waller now admits he orchestrated cheating activities at his school.

At his direction, teachers and administrators were ordered to ‘pre-teach’ the CRCT. The educators also participated in cheating ‘parties’ where they changed wrong to right answers on students’ CRCT’s en masse. Investigators probing cheating claims identified Parks as the school with the most widespread and egregious CRCT cheating within the district.

As excerpted from his letter of apology:

“….I orchestrated cheating by several teachers and fostered a culture of cheating that continued even after I was not at the school. I accept responsibility for this conduct which was unethical, immoral, dishonest and criminal.”

Waller says he engaged in the wrongdoing because of tremendous pressure placed upon him by Beverly Hall and Waller’s former supervisor, School Resource Team Executive Director Michael Pitts, to reach “unattainable” targets.  

Again, as excerpted from his letter of apology:

"...There was no way to keep up with the targets. The targets were unattainable. So we cheated to attain the targets. And then, many of us-not the least of which was me- tried to cover up this conduct.”

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Waller was sentenced to five years on probation, ordered to perform 1,000 hours of community service and pay $50,000.00 in fines, court costs and restitution. Waller also submitted a letter of apology to the Court.

As an additional requirement, Waller must also provide truthful testimony at trial. Prosecutors believe Waller’s testimony is critical because of his high-ranking administrative role and insight into the cheating culture. 

In addition to Waller, Sandra Ward, a former testing coordinator working under Waller’s leadership at Parks, also pleaded guilty today to a misdemeanor count of obstruction. She was sentenced to one year on probation, ordered to perform 250 hours of community service and pay restitution in the amount of $5,000.00 for bonus money she received. Ward must also cooperate with prosecutors and testify truthfully at trial.  

To date, 21 defendants have entered guilty pleas in connection with the cheating scandal. On Monday, former Human Resources Director, Millicent Few, the highest ranking administrator charged in the case aside from Beverly Hall, pleaded guilty.

There are thirteen remaining defendants who will now proceed to trial in May 2014.

Portions of this release were edited for publication.
E Keathley February 24, 2014 at 08:05 AM
I hope his testimony against Hall is made available via YouTube when it is given.
Octo Slash February 24, 2014 at 08:34 AM
Wonder how many of those going to trial are really innocent but will be railroaded into prison simply through guilt-by-association? If all you have to do to avoid jail time is admit guilt and write a contrived, full-of-BS letter of "apology", then why would anyone guilty go ahead with a jury trial? So now we're watching most of the guilty walk away and most of the innocent possibly go to prison. I guess cheaters DO win.
Reality March 10, 2014 at 10:36 AM
Dr Hall deserves many years behind bars for her greed over an actual quality education for our children! She is such a greedy pig

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